Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lost and Found

     Lost mittens.  The Lost and Found Department of the Montreal Metro is closed due to the holiday season.  They will be open tomorrow.  I am hoping to find my lost mittens.  In the meantime I have been contemplating the many losses of life.  Gary’s  “would have been 63rd birthday” today surely prompts this consideration.

     The word “loss” has gathered meanings since the year 1300 or so.  One could sort some of the meanings into the “Irretrievable Losses” bag and the others into the “Reversible Losses” bag.  From a word that originally meant “devastation” and then “losses in war” we have made this word carry a cartload of grief, hope and joy.

    I’m a mitten looser of the first rate.  As I never intend to loose mittens, the losses bear a strong sense of having been neglectful in some way.  Among the ways that we assign meaning to this word is to “loose one’s virginity”.  Isn’t it funny that this seems to make this act an accusation of neglect?  Surely it is at times, but not every time. 

     What of the expression “to loose one’s mind”?  Can you loose your mind intentionally or only through a folder of neglectful acts.  And if we have lost our mind.  Where can it be found?  We surely hope that that would be possible or why else would we speak of “losing one’s marbles”.  Marbles can be found.  Than minds can be found, surely.

     As I walk the Metros, I see homeless.  Almost always men.  Loss registers when you notice that they are sleeping without any pillow on the hard stone bench.  How did they loose their pillow?  When did they loose the right to sleep in private?  And so often, where did they loose their marbles?  The irretrievable losses are many.   I find that their bags of losses are so evident that it is puzzling that we as societies offer insufficient assistance in carrying those loads.  Have we lost our sense of compassion?       
       Gary said that he wasn’t sure he would survive into his thirties.  After all he lived during the wild 60’s and 70’s.  He lived until his sixtieth birthday.  Twice a blessings of years.  He gained enough years, enough time, to rummage through his bag of “Reversible Losses”.  He got to write, read history, learn patience and love deeper.  He reversed many losses.  His faith made the ink of his "Irretrievable Losses" fade.  He gained love from many quarters.  His passing is our loss.

Photo taken of Gary on his 60th Birthday

      Tomorrow as I describe the black gloves to Lost and Found, they will sigh.  Not another black pair of gloves!  We’re human.  We have similar losses.  Naomi Shibab Nye wrote one of my favorite poems.  As an expert in loosing in mittens, it has always given me hope.  Somehow my mittens will be found.

Yellow Glove

By Naomi Shihab Nye

What can a yellow glove mean in a world of motorcars and governments? 

I was small, like everyone. Life was a string of precautions: Don’t kiss the squirrel before you bury him, don’t suck candy, pop balloons, drop watermelons, watch TV. When the new gloves appeared one Christmas, tucked in soft tissue, I heard it trailing me: Don’t lose the yellow gloves. 

I was small, there was too much to remember. One day, waving at a stream—the ice had cracked, winter chipping down, soon we would sail boats and roll into ditches—I let a glove go. Into the stream, sucked under the street. Since when did streets have mouths? I walked home on a desperate road. Gloves cost money. We didn’t have much. I would tell no one. I would wear the yellow glove that was left and keep the other hand in a pocket. I knew my mother’s eyes had tears they had not cried yet, I didn’t want to be the one to make them flow. It was the prayer I spoke secretly, folding socks, lining up donkeys in windowsills. To be good, a promise made to the roaches who scouted my closet at night. If you don’t get in my bed, I will be good. And they listened. I had a lot to fulfill. 

The months rolled down like towels out of a machine. I sang and drew and fattened the cat. Don’t scream, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t fight—you could hear it anywhere. A pebble could show you how to be smooth, tell the truth. A field could show how to sleep without walls. A stream could remember how to drift and change—next June I was stirring the stream like a soup, telling my brother dinner would be ready if he’d only hurry up with the bread, when I saw it. The yellow glove draped on a twig. A muddy survivor. A quiet flag. 

Where had it been in the three gone months? I could wash it, fold it in my winter drawer with its sister, no one in that world would ever know. There were miracles on Harvey Street. Children walked home in yellow light. Trees were reborn and gloves traveled far, but returned. A thousand miles later, what can a yellow glove mean in a world of bankbooks and stereos? 

Part of the difference between floating and going down. 



  1. I am wearing one pink knit glove and one with many colored fingers with sparkles. I catch a glimpse of a multi-colored one - Wait - is ti the "other" one or the one I've been wearing. Differnt gloves make me wave happily.
    I hope you found a replacement pair. Maybe the lost and found should be an exchange:)

  2. I like the idea of a glove exchange. They seem to have lots of beautiful ones! I have gone to look twice for mine and they have told me to come back one more time just in case. Two different ones is a funny idea. When I garden I loose the right one only. I take it off to feel the weeds or the dirt and then leave it behind.


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